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Road Test: Renault Clio


Forum Addict
Sep 7, 2004
Bradford, UK
Following the success of the previous Renault Clio was always going to be difficult; Renault sold over 80,000 in the UK in 2003 alone. That is perhaps why that car is to remain in production (as an entry-level budget model) alongside this all-new one until 2007 at least, and why the Mk2 Clio is effectively going to be replaced by three distinctively different cars. The first, the hitherto slow-selling micro-MPV Modus is with us already, the third, the new Twingo, is a good two years away. The mainstream model of the three, though, is this, the Mk3 Clio itself.

Renault intends the Clio III (as it calls it) to achieve what no Clio has managed before: to consistently outsell its rival from Peugeot. The 206 may now be pretty decrepit, but it has a very strong image - and the all-new 207 will be launched in 2006 anyway. The Clio III has a tough task ahead, but be in no doubt that it is a very different car to the one it replaces. Like the Modus and latest Nissan Micra, it is based on the Renault-Nissan B-platform; it's bigger in every direction, boasts the longest wheelbase in the class and carries a whopping 130kg more weight than the Mk2 car. This extra size and weight is the result of packing in a mountain of safety gear, and offering an average 3cm more room in all three dimensions in both the front and back of the cabin.

There are three petrol engines and one diesel on offer from launch, though the diesel comes with three different power outputs. A five-door Clio will not be available until 2006, but the three-door version will account for up to 85 per cent of sales - and maybe more, given the option of the Modus for the more practically-minded. As usual, Renault is offering a near-bewildering variety of specification levels and trim options; model-for-model, the Clio III is, on average ?200 more than the outgoing version, with the range from launch starting at ?8,895 (1.2 Extreme) and going up to ?11,550 (1.6 Dynamique S).

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Nice... apart from the headlights, not nice. Looks like some Hollywood wife who's had her eyes pinned back.